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As the economic landscape rattles beneath us (ok, I am qualified to draw this analogy, since I live in San Francisco) we scour for the stable anchors that will steady the ground and keep our businesses standing upright. What I see emerging is the increased importance for the CMO to shine a light on the path out. This is not to diminish the roles of any others. All the CXO’s should offer valuable contributions out of the morass. But as the CEO reads with dismay the diminished number of shoppers trundling through their stores, and not participating in the American pastime called shopping, real challenges must be met with correct and decisive actions, one cannot simply cost cut their way to improved market share, to renewed brand loyalty or expect more visits or increased spend.

This takes a proactive approach to the role of CMO as John Quelch cites in his blog:

http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/quelch/2009/02/how_cmos_should_function_in_a.html?cm_mmc=npv-_-WEEKLY_HOTLIST-_-FEB_2009-_-HOTLIST0224

It wasn’t that long ago when successful marketing executives were 30% Dr. Strangelove, 30% Marie Laveau and hopefully, the remainder,  a heaping helping of Warren Buffett.  But slow to take shape has been the accurate measures of performance, of quantified understanding how the creative aspects of engaging in the market truly enticed and made measure of its worth. It was either; “WOW! It worked!” or “OOPS, It failed” with the inherent lag in time in either of these subjective judgements.

With the proliferation of digital media and online marketing measured in real time, response measures and feedback can be instantaneous and the collective pulse of the consumer noted when resonance has occurred. But that by itself is inadequate, for those measures must follow the money to understand conversions and financial contribution.

In order for CMO’s to be successful today, they must embrace digital strategies in all aspects of marketing. From an effective search engine usage and online advertising to a compelling multichannel strategy,  onto finding new demographics via social networks and endearing them to your brand and retail experience. The CMO can be a hero in their businesses.

For so many, the path is there. Making the decision to embrace and follow it, is the only thing that stands in their way.

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  1. Vijay Vijayasankar
    In lean times – apart from reducing prices, the best known way to increase sales is by doing effective marketing. So yes, the CMO can/should be a hero.

    On the other hand, what I have noticed for past few years is that marketing folks are generally the first to lose their jobs, compared to sales and other functions.

    I think the biggest reason for this is the lack of good and timely metrics to prove their worth to the business. And for reasons best known to them – a lot of marketers I deal with do not like metrics or measurement of any sort, other than may be how much of their budget they have spent year to day.

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